Nick Saban Still Looking For Answers Regarding ‘Pay-For-Play’ Environment, Even Though They’re Hard To Find

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The ongoing discussion revolving around “pay-for-play” in regards to NIL and collectives is not dying down, we’re only getting started. As for Alabama head coach Nick Saban, he still has concerns about whether players are making the right choices.

Whether you like it or not, some players choosing where they play a college sport will come down to which school can offer the most. Nowadays, a player might feel as if they have to strike while the iron is hot when it comes to getting paid. There is a concern among some coaches in the college game that this has gone too far. But without guidance from lawmakers, I wouldn’t expect much to change over the next few years.

This is what happens when the NCAA decides to give the green light to a program that doesn’t have many parameters. As for Nick Saban, he feels players are not picking schools that can develop their value over time, but which school is willing to pay the most now.

“The issue is, when you create those [collectives] for people, are you establishing a pay-for-play type of environment that can be used in recruiting? So now, all the sudden, guys are not going to school where they can create the most value for their future. Guys are going to school where they can make the most money. I don’t think that is even the best thing for the player,” Saban told Sports Illustrated.

Nick Saban Is All For Name, Image, Likeness

But Saban is not proposing a change to Name, Image, Likeness. No, he wants more clarity when it comes to how these collectives operate. The moment things changed for Saban is when collectives started dabbling into recruiting. It also comes back to the non-existent guidelines that weren’t put into place when this first launched. Now, coaches and commissioners are looking for ways to establish guidelines for the future, while playing from behind.

“I think name, image and likeness is good for players,” Saban continued. “The whole concept of collectives is what has created this environment that we are in, and I’m not sure that anybody really had the insight or the vision to see that was going to happen. So therefore, we had no guidelines, and now we’re trying to develop some.”

Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide converses with head coach Lane Kiffin of the Mississippi Rebels. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Lawmakers Aren’t Going To Fix This Problem Right Now

If Nick Saban, or any other coach thinks that lawmakers on Capitol Hill have the right answers, he’s sorely mistaken. Right now you’ve got members of congress that do not want to dabble in something they have no idea how to regulate. Coaches can advocate for changes until they’re blue in the face, but it’s going to take time before the federal level can adequately come up with a resolution to the ongoing dispute.

“Maybe it needs to be changed at the federal level so you don’t have different state laws and there are guidelines for what you can and can’t do,” Alabama’s Nick Saban added about federal changes. “Players should create their opportunities, and what we’ve done now is some schools are creating opportunities for them. I don’t think that was the intent.”

This time last year, the talk around the SEC was centered on Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher’s war of words. Now, we’ve gotten to a point where some coaches are trying to navigate the transfer portal, while also dealing with some players looking for the highest bidder.

“Are you transferring to make more money, or are you transferring because it’s going to help you be more successful? The combination of those two things have really made it tough,” Saban noted.

I don’t think anyone will have sympathy for Nick Saban and Alabama. But even though you might not like him, he continues to raise a decent point. Just don’t expect lawmakers to come flying in with a solution right now.

Written by Trey Wallace

Trey Wallace is the host of The Trey Wallace Podcast that focuses on a mixture of sports, culture, entertainment along with his perspective on everything from College Football to the College World Series.

Wallace has been covering college sports for 15 years, starting off while attending the University of South Alabama. He’s broken some of the biggest college stories including the Florida football “Credit Card Scandal” along with the firing of Jim McElwin and Kevin Sumlin. Wallace also broke one of the biggest stories in college football in 2020 around the NCAA investigation into recruiting violations against Tennessee football head coach Jeremy Pruitt.

Wallace also appears on radio across seven different states breaking down that latest news in college sports.

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